Welcome to the Martinsville wrap up. Where victory lane goes up in smoke, a 5 time champ does the right thing, a wild card goes for a spin, we're crying over spilled Crown Royal and M&M's, the question appears to Black Flag or not to Black Flag and things are looking up for our Dega odd man out.
ESPN - First things first. ESPN obviously has some one with A.D.D. running that channel. There's way too much going on about the future and not enough about the now. Way too much pop ups glopping up the screen. They can run baseball, NFL, etc scores on the bottom of the screen all race long and through the commercials and instant replays but can't keep the driver leader board up and scrolling. Racing except for the cautions is non stop. Position changes are going on constantly. They don't have a down or a hit or a play and then go to a time out to confer on what we do next. It's sad that I have to listen to the radio broadcast at the same time as watching the race to keep track. ESPN needs to get it together when it comes to broadcasting. Will we have to have an Occupy ESPN to get their attention on just how bad their broadcast is? Nuff said, onward and upward.
STARTING POSITIONS - Qualifying was rained out so they lined up as they are in the points. Edwards Pole Position - Kenseth 2nd - Keselowski 3rd - Stewart 4th - Harvick 5th - Ky Busch 6th - Johnson 7th - Ku Busch 8th - Earnhardt Jr 9th - Gordon 10th - Hamlin 11th - Newman 12th
RYAN NEWMAN - During the lap 65 caution Newman decides not to pit so he can lead and collect that bonus point. He leads more laps through another caution on lap 105 and decides to pit. He's in 23rd on the restart and makes his way to 13th by lap 138, 9th by lap 147. A caution on lap 150 comes out and Newman again leads. He drifts back to 13th again and this is where he stays for the rest of the race. He manages to get 10th in the end. He stays in 12th place in the standings.
DENNY HAMLIN - Our Dega odd man out had a great day despite a caution on lap 8 where Jr decided to squeeze in between the curb and Kurt Busch. He ran out of room and spins out himself, Kurt, Gordon, Hamlin, Vickers, Allmendinger and Skinner. Hamlin goes in for tires and tape on the nose of the car. Comes out in 27th. Another caution on lap 27 and Hamlin stays out of the pits to now be in 9th on the restart. Another caution on lap 46 and he's 5th on the restart. Lap 65 Hamlin takes the lead. For the rest of the day he rides around in the top 10 leading laps at different times and brings it home with a 5th place finish. He's still 11th in the point standings but a major improvement in results.
JEFF GORDON - On lap 8 he's caught up in the spin that Jr created fighting over a spot. He's got front end damage. A nice heavy mallet and 4 tires takes care of the issue. He goes in again to makes sure air in getting into his radiator and to cool his brakes. He complains of possible over heating around lap 27 and drops back into the 20's. At the lap 72 restart he's in 7th but drops back to the 20's again. By lap 147 he's peaking into the top 10 once again and his over heating issues seem to have faded away. On lap 235 it's Gordon to the lead. At lap 248 he puts Edwards down a lap. And again on lap 314. He spends the rest of the day in the top 5 and brings it home in 3rd. He's still 10th in the points.
DALE EARNHARDT JR - Says he has a hot rod today and expects a great finish. He almost finished his day on lap 8 with a spin out that took out 6 other drivers and himself. On the restart he's in 31st. Three cautions later and Jr has made his way to 2nd. On lap 150 he punts Joey Logano who bounces off the wall to bring out a caution. He does start dropping back to 21st and then clawing his way to the top 10 again around lap 194. On the last restart on lap 4 Jr runs into the back of Hamlin who runs into the back of Keselowski sending him spinning. Jr never leads a lap for the bonus point and brings it home 7th but stays in 9th in the standings.
KURT BUSCH- On lap 8 he's caught up in the spin Jr created when the two were fighting over position but comes out pretty clean. After the next caution he starts in 5th. He's complaining about handling issue in the transition from asphalt to concrete (there are patches of concrete in the asphalt) and that he also hates this track. He starts dropping. On the lap 112 restart he's back to 30th. On the lap 156 restart he's clawed his way back up to 10th. He drops back to 19th and goes down a lap around lap 322. A caution on lap 398 for Kurt turning Jeff Burton around gives Kurt the wave around. On lap 432 Kurt and Paul Menard get together and spin. Kurt now has heavy front and back end damage. He's around 20th now. He manages to stay on the lead lap and bring it home in 14th and never leads a lap. Still 8th in the points.
KYLE BUSCH - A wild ride for this guy. On lap 52 restart he's leading. Falls back a bit due to all the cautions and pitting strategies going on but is right back up to take the lead by lap 118 again which he keeps til lap 235 when Gordon moves out front. Kyle stays in the top 5 till lap 464 when he's caught up in a wreck with Kenseth and Montoya. Heavy damage all around. His crew chief is trying to get repairs done under caution and as the pace car comes around orders are given to drop the jack and for Kyles to go around and come back in. This would've been ok but the lug nuts weren't tightened on the left front tires and he loses the tire at the exit to pit road and has to go around the track on 3 tires and a piece of metal. He limps around the last laps. Kyle ends his day in 27th and 7 laps down to drops one position to 7th place in the standings. Consolation? He did lead the most laps.
JIMMIE JOHNSON - An uneventful day for our 5 time champ hanging around the top 5 most of the day. He leads laps and at the last restart he and Stewart are side by side and Jimmie has the chance to shove Stewart up the track and out of the way for the win. He chooses not to and ends his day in 2nd. When asked why he didn't fight Stewart more he said it wasn't the right thing to do and it's not his style to run over some one for a position. Class act if you ask me. Jimmie moves up one position to 6th in the standings.
KEVIN HARVICK - He manages to hang around 10th most of the day. On the restart on lap 404 his out front. There's a caution and another restart on lap 412. Stewart takes the lead from him but not without some beatin' and bangin' contact. On lap 414 Biffle goes around and backs into the wall. Stewart gives up the lead to Harvick for tires. Harvick out front for lap 419 restart. Another caution on lap 432 for Kurt Busch spinning out. Still in the lead for lap 434 restart. With 63 to go Johnson takes the lead from Harvick and he gets dropped back to 6th. He fights his way back to a 4th place finish. This gives him a 2 spot gain to 3rd in the standings.
TONY STEWART - Sorry folks but I can't do the objective writer thing here. This is my man and I'm doing my best Snoopy dance right now for his victory. He takes 2nd by lap 8 and on lap 31 during another caution he doesn't pit and takes the lead for that all important bonus point. But after that he starts dropping back. By lap 112 he's 7th, By lap 147 he's 11th. By lap 161 he's 18th. He's struggling with a bad handling car that won't turn. On his last pit stop they found that he used his right rear tire down to nothing after just 45 laps. Mean while Gordon has taken the lead and he's lapping the field one by one. By lap 320 Stewart is in 16th. On lap 348 Paul Menard is put down a lap by Hamlin who now leads. Guess who's next? Hamlins on his bumper and Stewart is fighting for his position. Hamlin just can't pass him. They get up to other traffic and now poor Mark Martin is being used as a shield to keep Hamlin at bay. Martin is hanging on as these 2 fight to keep him in the way and bump him out of the way at the same time. Hamlin still can't get by Stewart. They both pass Martin and next on the shield list for Stewart is Jeff Burton. Stewart keeps Burton pinned into position to keep Hamlin back. Finally on lap 361 David Guilliland has a flat tire and backs into the wall to bring out a lap saving caution for Stewart. From then on he's on a mission. Another caution later he's out of the pits in 3rd. On lap 413 Stewart takes the lead from Harvick but contact with Harvick puts him in the pits for Tires. He's worried some things broke and the car doesn't feel right. Crew chief says tires are fine that we took off. He's in 23rd on the restart, in 17th after another caution, and with 57 laps to go he fights to 11th. Another caution and he's in 3rd. Another caution and now a restart with 4 laps to go puts him beside Johnson who's in 1st. They're off. They wrestle for position but Johnson doesn't push him up into the wall and Stewart passes for the lead and on to the win. He moves from 4th to 2nd in the standings.
BRAD KESELOWSKI - Our wild card falls as far as 27th at one point but manages to stay in or around 10th staying out of trouble most of the day. He's got a pit road stall right at the speed timing line so he can pass one or 2 cars on pit road at a higher speed without getting docked for speeding if he slows down at the next timing line. Nifty trick. Keeps him passing cars in the pits for a better spot on the track. On the last restart with 4 laps to go he's in 8th. As they get going and fighting for position Jr shoves Hamlin into Keselowski and he spins out of line. This gives him a 17th place finish and he drops from 3rd to 4th in the standings.
MATT KENSETH - His day starts great as he takes the lead for the first lap. He's hanging between the top 5 or 10 for most of the race. Around lap 450 Kenseth and Brian Vickers are getting into each other right in front of Stewart. Kenseth finally tires of Vickers bumping and helps him into the wall on lap 457 for a caution. On the lap 464 restart Kenseth has to lock up the brakes enough to not hit any one and his tire goes. He takes out Kyle Busch and Jaun Montoya. Heavy damage to Kenseth's car sends him to the garage with a broken track bar. He comes home in 31st and 23 laps down. Which drops him from 2nd to 5th in the standings.
CARL EDWARDS - Another scary day for our points leader. He takes the race lead at 5 laps in and keeps it till a caution on lap 27. And the problems begin as he is now 14th on the restart. By lap 82 he's 23rd. He manages a brief top 10 due to cautions and pit strategy but it soon goes bad. At lap 248 Gordon puts Edwards down a lap in 25th. He gets the lucky dog on lap 258 when Mark Martin spins and brings out the caution. On lap 300 he's the last car on the lead lap in 24th. At lap 314 he's a lap down again. Hermie Sadler goes around and brings out a caution on lap 408. Lucky Dog for Edwards. He's still back around 20th. On lap 428 Edwards is black flagged on a restart for not staying in position on the restart till he passes over the start/finish line for the first time. BUT the NASCAR decides he got back in line and took back the black flag. So I didn't see any replays so I can;t say. He's still 20th at this point. and needs adjustments on the car to turn better. Another caution and he now is in 13th. On the last restart he's 10th and is able to get one more spot to bring it home in 9th. He's still our points leader by 8 points.
STANDINGS - Edwards 2273 - Stewart 2265 - Harvick 2252 - Keselowski 3346 - Kenseth 2237 - Johnson 2230 - Ky Busch 2216 - Ku Busch 2215 - Earnhardt Jr 2200 - Gordon 2197 - Hamlin 2193 - Newman 2184
SUMMERY - This was one ugly beatin' and bangin' tight quarters make no friends race. Jr at one point said if they did more short tracks like this one that he might be known as a dirty driver cause it's just so easy to do. His car looked like it too. You couldn't read the number on the side of the car by half way through the race. They didn't get above 89 mph but the carnage factor was high. Brian Vickers in the #83 was in half of the 18 cautions. His car was a mangled mess but he managed to stay in it until 8 laps to go when he hit the wall for the last time bringing out the last caution of the day.
As far as the Chase goes, I'm thinking that it's between the top 4 guys now with Stewart and Edwards being the favorites. Edwards is hungry but I don't think he can put together 3 good finishes in a row. Stewart is a 2 time champ with way more years of experience. He said in victory lane about Edwards..."He better be worried. He ain't gonna have an easy 3 weeks". So the head games begin. Does Stewart 8 points back with 3 Chase race wins psych out Edwards? Do the HMS boys (Johnson, Gordon & Jr) along with his team mate Newman block and or help Stewart in some capacity to get that title? Does Keselowski pit strategy his way back in this title Chase? Is Harvick going to make that charge from so-so finishes to command the lead again in the points. I'm excited. I can't wait to see.
So next week on Nov 6th at 3pm we'll be at Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 in Fort Worth, Texas. It's a quad oval designed 1.5 mile track with 24 degree banking in the turns. Hamlin won the April and November races there last year. This year it was Kenseth in the April race. This is a good track for Edwards who has 3 wins here. So I certainly hope Stewart has some thing for these 3 guys. Just wish ESPN could get their act together.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great day......